How to Use CreateSpace Templates to Set up Your Book Cover Design Properly for Print

Hey guys, today I’m taking you through the process of using a template from CreateSpace to set up your book cover for print. You can use a lot of the same tricks with other templates but I know that CreateSpace gets a lot of use by indie authors. I hope I can save you some time and stress in figuring it out.

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To download the template go to: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

I don’t find the template easy to find on the website, so I always just google “CreateSpace Template” which gets me there quicker.

Input your details. Most people will be doing a black and white interior, so that’s easy.

Trim size is up to you, I design a lot of 6×9 books but honestly I like the size of the 5.25×8 best. Your choice will depend on how long your book is (a longer book might be more manageable with a larger trim size and therefore less pages) and your preference.

You need the page count to be exact so make sure you’re fully done formatting the book, including all the title pages, back matter and other random pages.

I prefer cream paper to white, the white is really…white. Unnaturally white.

Click the Build Template button and download the .zip file. Then unzip it on your computer to get started in Photoshop.

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Go into Photoshop and open the .pdf file you received in the .zip. Because it’s a PDF you will need to tell it what size you want to open at.

Be sure to set the resolution to at least 300 Pixels/Inch. I do my art at 600 dpi, but there’s no point in creating the cover at that resolution as CreateSpace doesn’t want a file that big. Also, be sure that Constrain Proportions is checked.

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Here’s what it will look like when you open it up. You can just make a new layer underneath the template and work like that to make sure that everything lines up. I am not a fan of that system, so I came up with a more elegant solution. We’re going to use the Rulers.

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Go into View and make sure Rulers are selected, along with Extras.

Snap helps you line up things to the lines you make with Rulers, or to the center or edges. Sometimes this is helpful, sometimes it keeps you from putting the object where you want it to go, so I turn Snap on and off frequently as I work.

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Now, choose your move tool. Go up to the ruler that runs along the edge of your workspace and drag a blue line down to the dotted line on the template. You can reposition the line if you need to once you’ve created it.

Do this for all the dotted lines. If you create a line you didn’t want, you can just drag it back off the workspace.

Now hit CTRL + H (Command+H for Mac). Did the lines disappear? CTRL + H again will bring them back. I toggle them on and off as I need them.

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Your template is almost ready to use, but don’t forget the barcode! Drag a selection box around it.

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Then create a new layer and fill the selection with solid white (fffff).

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Now you can either trash the original template, or hide it by clicking the eyeball beside the layer.

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Here’s a template in use. You can see that even though the printer will aim to cut at the lines, your image needs to go all the way to the edge of the document. This is the bleed, and it’s very important as printers can’t be trusted to cut right along the line, they need a little wiggle room.

You can see that I have a couple extra guides on the back cover. I add a line to show where the crease hits, because I don’t like my text to go across the crease. It’s harder to read and it doesn’t need to be that close to the edge anyway. I have a matching line on the other side just to help me keep things centered.

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If spine is a different colour than the covers, make it slightly wider than the guides. Books nearly always come back a little crooked, and I hate seeing the front or back cover on the spine.

This is something to think about  when you’re designing the cover, an image that wraps across the front, spine, and back will give you a bit more room for printer error than a solid spine like this one. I still love solid spines though 😉 I like the bright colours on my book shelf.

For the same reason, make sure the elements of your spine are all well inside the guides, having them touch the edges of when it’s printed looks sloppy, and highlights an off centered cut job. You can’t control what goes on at the printer’s end, so do everything you can on your end to make it turn out as professional looking as possible.

I hope this helps you use the CreateSpace templates more easily for your next book cover! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

2 Comments

  • This is a huge help. I’ve been using the templates from CS, but your instructions help to fine tune a few things I wasn’t aware of. Especially how to work the pdf file.

    Thanks for posting this. It was a great help!
    Blessings!

  • I have a book cover that needs a couple of alterations. I’m wondering if I could pay to alter the cover for createspace. LK

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